•Our Advent Lessons and Carols are this Sunday, at 7:00 PM, in the abbey Church. All students are required to be present. A reception follows.
•The last day of school for the first semester is Friday, December 16. Students will be dismissed after their last exam. For most of them, this means around 12:15 PM or so.
•The next basketball game is: Monday, December 12, at 4:00 PM, at American Sports Center [1500 Anaheim Blvd # 110, Anaheim, CA 92805]
•The next soccer game is: Tuesday, December 13, at 3:15 PM, at St. Michael’s.
During the last days immediately before Advent we heard a lot, in the Church’s Liturgy, about that great and terrible day when God would come to judge “the world and all its inhabitants.” We hear in the readings and the Gospel that it would be bad for those who are expecting children at that time, that two men would be working and one would be taken away, that even some of the elect would fall away. We heard that there would be terrible signs in the heavens, that the sun would be darkened and that there would be much suffering and confusion. And the Church recalled all of these things in her haunting hymn Dies Irae, the “Day of Wrath,” traditionally sung at funerals but also sung during that last week before Advent, in order to remind us of this terrifying return of our Divine Judge. But now, as the commemoration of our Lord’s Coming finally approaches, the tune has changed to one of great hope and joy. This must seem rather strange to an outside observer: “First you’re dreading the Lord’s coming, now you just can’t wait for His arrival?”
Our Good God first reminds us of what we deserve, then He gives us what we do not—like the child who is reminded by his parents that he really deserves a lump of coal in his stocking, but finds on Christmas Morning a gift far beyond his wildest dreams. We deserve that Day of Wrath spoken of by the Prophets; and yet this Christmas we’ll probably be given quite the opposite. We all deserve a good lump of coal in our stocking (maybe even a little sulfur as well); but we’ll be given instead a Newborn Savior in a manger.
Our Heavenly Father in His wisdom first promises fire and brimstone in order to make us aware of our unworthiness of the gift of His love and mercy which He is going to give instead, hoping as He does that we will accept His gift with all the more gratitude and humility. He also knows that it is better to move men by love than by fear. His first coming was to fulfill His plan of love, to teach men by gentle persuasion (St. Cyril).
Our Lord will indeed come to judge us, but only after coming to us two previous times: as a Child in the arms of our Lady and in grace in our everyday lives. As one ancient writer put it: There are three comings of our Lord; the first in the flesh, the second in the soul, the third at the judgement…The first as a lamb, the last as a lion, and in between the two the kindest of friends (Peter de Blois). And so our Lord, before giving us what we deserve, showers us with gifts, hoping for our sakes that we will accept Him at His first two comings, and thus make His last coming not one of horror and shame, but one of glory and exultation. He warns us of His last coming that we might benefit from His first coming. Let us not resist His first coming, warns St. Augustine, that we might not be terrified at His last coming, and again, Let us offer Him humility and love and so confidently await His coming as Judge.
In these final days before Christmas we ought to consider the example of the Blessed Virgin who, having received the Savior at His first coming with a loving welcome, did not need to fear His last coming as she was called forth from this life; and the example of holy Simeon is no less edifying, who, humbly holding His Divine Judge in his arms, could say with hope, “O Lord, dismiss now your servant in peace.” Let us hasten towards the coming of Christ with humility and gratitude, conscious of what we really deserve this Christmas, so as to receive Him well here at this coming and be received by Him at His last coming.
•For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
•For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
•For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.